Today's letter from the Editor
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i Editor's Letter: Section 28 can't be allowed to rear its ugly head again
A ban on promoting homosexuality to children and teenagers, enforced by teachers in schools? No, not Russia, but academies in the Midlands, Stockport, Swindon, Manchester, York, Coventry...
The news that dozens of schools around England and Wales seem to have missed the last 20 years and prohibit the “promotion” of being gay, is shocking because it shows that for some, Section 28 was never repealed. That law’s most horrible parts live on, word for word, today.
Section 28, to recap, forbade councillors and teachers from “intentionally promoting homosexuality” or “the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.
You cannot “promote” homosexuality, since it is not a lifestyle choice. I thought we dealt with all this in the 1990s and then got rid of the hateful blot on our statute books in 2003. (For which, thanks, Tony Blair.)
What we’re talking about here is not a science teacher armed with a copy of Attitude, two large carrots and a pack of safety condoms. It’s some pretty basic information about bonking and sexuality.
No one was ever prosecuted under Section 28, but its effect was to gag teachers, leaving them powerless to tackle homophobic bullying, unable to provide sex education for teenagers – be they gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight, transgender or simply curious – and forced to hide their own sexuality.
So once more, for the benefit of those pupils in Solihull, Haverfordwest, Wakefield, Hackney and Gateshead: being gay is perfectly natural. Right. Back to 2013...
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